Saturday, November 27, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Mildred Fay Jefferson was born in 1927 in Pittsburg, Texas. The daughter of a public school teacher and a Methodist minister, it was as solid a middle-class background for a girl born in the Jim Crow South.
After attending segregated public schools in east Texas, not known for high academic achievement, she attended Texas College, a Methodist college for black students, graduating summa cum laude. She came to Massachusetts, earning a master's of science degree at Tufts University.
Jefferson entered Harvard Medical School in 1947, and became the first black woman to graduate in 1951, one of many "firsts" for her. She was the first woman to be a surgical intern at Boston City Hospital and the first woman admitted to membership in the Boston Surgical Society.
Dr. Jefferson served as a general surgeon with the former Boston University Medical Center and assistant clinical professor of surgery at Boston University Medical School.
Dr. Jefferson had a strong interest in the law and ethics of medicine, and how they interacted to influence society and government. She was a dedicated supporter of the Right to Life movement, especially as it affected black people. A nationally recognized activist, she helped establish the National Right to Life committee and was its three-time president.
At a speech at Harvard in 2001, she stressed, "I am a right-to-life activist. I am not an anti-abortionist." In the same speech she was very critical of the birth control movement founded by Margaret Sanger and its concern about "dysgenics," which would have declared a poor, black girl like herself unworthy of being born.
Dr. Jefferson's last major public appearance was her nomination of Christy Mihos at the Republican convention. Mihos talked about their meeting.
"She was one gifted lady who was being considered by Ronald Reagan as his pick for surgeon general," he said. "Whenever she called, her first words to me were, 'Is this the Honorable Christy Mihos?' That was her calling card — grace, dignity, knowledge and compassion, a true stateswoman. I have never been so honored and proud as when she put my name into nomination. Her words of fighting for the truth and being true to your principles were utterly a humbling experience for me that day. She believed strongly and passionately that the welfare state had retarded the success of people of color. This woman was the true American story — up from nothing."
Mihos talked about their discussion of her role at the convention. "We met at her favorite spot in Cambridge and I just listened for two hours without saying much at all. We first met many years ago when she ran for U.S. Senate and many follow-up meetings at various events. At about the two-hour mark at lunch she looked at me with that ever-present twinkle in her eye and said she'd be 'honored to place your name in nomination.' She always smiled and was so damn positive and optimistic, even with all she had been through."
I heard that nomination speech. I asked Mihos' people for a copy, and one responded, "I spoke to her numerous times prior to the convention, picked her up from the hotel and personally escorted her to the green room and then the stage apron. She had her speech clutched in her hand and nobody had a copy of it. That's why I panicked when they moved her to the other side of the stage. No one really knew (except in general terms) what she would be saying."
Jefferson was not very respectfully treated by the arrogant young men with their Secret Service earpieces at the convention. Some rudeness was because some were too young to know who she was, but most of it was due to her supporting the "wrong" candidate. As she stood in the doorway to the stage being introduced, they decided she should enter from the OTHER side, making the 84-year-old woman walk down the staircase, to the other side of the enormous DCU Center in Worcester and up another staircase to their preferred podium.
Despite the noticeable gap in the program taking that walk, and arriving out of breath, it didn't matter when she spoke. Her soaring speech about the purpose of government was the acknowledged highlight of the convention, and she did her candidate proud.
A distinguished woman of color who shattered so many ceilings usually receives widespread media attention upon passing, as she did on Oct. 17, but just as Dr. Jefferson supported the wrong candidate, her conservative beliefs were the wrong philosophy. But they were her own, and she stood proudly behind them.
Cynthia Stead of Dennis serves as the Cape and Islands' Republican state committeewoman. E-mail her
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
From The Panola Watchman:
A memorial service will be held for Dr. Mildred Jefferson, 84, of Cambridge, Mass., formerly of Carthage, at Walnut Grove Baptist Church on County Road 302 on Friday, November 5, 2010 at 11 a.m. Dr. Jefferson passed away Friday, October 15, 2010 at her home in Cambridge, Mass.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
From The American Spectator
By G. Tracy Mehan, III on 11.11.10 @ 6:07AM
The noise of the electoral season is no excuse for failing to remark on the passing of a great woman and, more importantly, celebrate her life. Let me make amends.
As reported by Dennis Hevesi in the New York Times' Obituaries for October 19, "Dr. Mildred Jefferson, a prominent, outspoken opponent of abortion and the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School died Friday in Cambridge, Mass. She was 84."
Dr. Jefferson, a surgeon, was appalled by the 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy, up to the moment of birth. This decision, along with its evil twin, Doe v. Bolton, struck down all state restrictions on the practice, effectively allowing abortions in almost any circumstances including mere convenience.
Jefferson testified before Congress that these decisions "gave my profession almost unlimited license to kill."
"With the obstetrician and mother becoming the worst enemy of the child and the pediatrician becoming the assassin for the family, the state must be enabled to protect the life of the child, born and unborn," said the good doctor.
Dr. Jefferson, a native of Texas, was a founder and president (for several terms) of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), a federation of 50 state organizations and more than 3,000 chapters. She also served as director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life  and was active in Black Americans for Life.
She also found time to practice surgery at Boston University Medical Center and serve as a professor of surgery at the university's medical school.
By all accounts, including this writer's own observation, Dr. Jefferson was a charismatic leader. "She was probably the greatest orator of our movement," asserts Darla St. Martin, co-executive director of the NRLC. "In fact, take away the probably."
"I am at once a physician, a citizen and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human life to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged and the planned have the right to live," said Dr. Jefferson in a 2003 profile in the American Feminist.
Reading Dr. Jefferson's obituary caused me to recall the many great women I had the privilege of working with in my early days, right out of law school, as the right-to-life movement emerged in my hometown of St. Louis. My wife, mother and aunts were among them. I had the same experience years later in Michigan.
They were usually strong personalities, be they introverted or extroverted, motivated more by a visceral love for children than any formal intellectual appreciation, say, of the realist philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and the inalienable right to life. That came later. They saw an injustice, an affront to the civilized order, and resolved to confront it head-on.
Many put their shoulders to the hard work of counseling and the support of alternative "birthright" services. My aunt Jane Mehan, a former nurse and mother of four, was president of the St. Louis chapter; and my mother spent many hours each week helping young women who were dealing with an untimely pregnancy. The support they gave unwed mothers was material, psychologicial and medical. Most important, they gave them hope.
Others became politically active, many for the first time, which seemed to come naturally to the Irish-Americans among them. These women were willing to put their solid Democratic credentials at risk for the good of the cause. I remember Mary Fran Horgan, a Latin instructor and savvy political mind active with the Pro-Life Committee of the Archdiocese, and Ann O'Donnell, a former nurse and strikingly beautiful woman who was national vice-president for NRLC and a scourge to venal politicians of either party.
Barbara Listing, head of Right to Life of Michigan, a political force in her own right, was scrupulous in supporting anyone, regardless of party affiliation, who stood up for the unborn.
More recently, Marjorie Dannensfelser, a former staffer to West Virginia's Democratic Congressman Alan Mollohan, started the Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee with the aim of electing pro-life women of either party to Congress.
They were and are wealthy matrons and working-class women; lawyers and, like Dr. Jefferson, doctors; teachers and homemakers; mothers and daughters and grandmothers; caregivers and politicos. What they had in common was a determined commitment to restoring respect for human life in its most defenseless form.
So let us now praise famous women who understood that to love is to truly live.
G. Tracy Mehan, III served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the administrations of both Presidents Bush. He is a consultant in Arlington, Virginia, and an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
When death comes, and we stand before God,
no king can command Him, no authority can restrain Him,
no riches can hire Him to wait past his appointed time
even one moment of an hour.
Therefore let us speak what we are bound to speak
and do the deeds we are called to do.
No empty time is allowed to any of us.
Friday, November 5, 2010
We at Massachusetts Citizens for Life were privileged to work with Dr Mildred Jefferson for thirty-eight years. We have always considered ourselves her second family. We extend to you, her first family, our sincerest condolences. All of us, and the country as a whole, have lost a brilliant leader and spokesperson for the sanctity of all human life.
We have an online blog featuring messages about "Dr J" posted by her friends and admirers. Fr. Martin Hyatt, her old friend and fellow member of the Board of Massachusetts Citizens for Life sums up the comments:
"A Woman of Honor, A Woman of Dignity, A Woman of Hope,
A Woman of Integrity, A Woman of Goodness, A Woman of Life,
A Woman of Vision, Moses of the Pro-Life Movement"
The death of this great woman reminds us again of the words of her dear friend and colleague, Congressman Henry Hyde:
"When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I've often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God -- and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there'll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world -- and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, 'Spare him, because he loved us!'"
Pure of heart Concern for Others
Virtuous Lights Up A Room
Loving Daughter Faithful Friend
Radiant Smile Sparkling Eyes
Faithful and Faith-filled Ethical
Loyal Hard Working
Inner Strength Approachable
Joyful and joy-filled Patriotic
Good Things Come In Small Packages A Spark of the Holy Spirit
Compassionate Radical yet Real
Witty Wonderful Gift From God
A Woman of Honor, A Woman of Dignity, A Woman of Hope,
A Woman of Integrity, A Woman of Goodness, A Woman of Life,
A Woman of Vision, Moses of the Pro-Life Movement
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010